Today, there are nearly 2 million apps available for iPhone, and over 2.1 million apps for Android. App markets are becoming more and more competitive as developers create ever-increasing numbers of apps. How will your app rise above the clutter? You need a strong plan that will garner the attention of your target users.
You also want to strike hot because it’s easy for other developers to copy ideas. While your code is copyright protected, the idea behind the app doesn’t enjoy the same protection. You need to secure your place in the market before others can replicate your app. A successful launch requires planning, and you should start the process a few months in advance of your anticipated launch date to ensure you’re ready. Here are the steps to follow.
1. Test and Test Again
Once your app has been developed, you should do thorough user testing to ensure you identify and address any hidden bugs. Test on as many different devices as possible, because they all display a little differently. Gather a variety of users and have them experiment with the app on their own to find any problems. It’s much better to delay launch to fix bugs now than to alienate users who have trouble when they download your app with expectations that it works properly. Bad ratings early on can sink your launch.
2. Wrap Up Your Market Research
Hopefully, you conducted market research in the validation process. You should now have a thorough understanding of your potential users, their pain points, and their perceptions of an ideal solution. You should also have surveyed existing solutions that will be competing with your app. Now it’s time to fill any holes in your knowledge that surfaced during the development process.
Additionally, you’ll want to dig deeper into competitor research. Look closely at other apps that aim to solve the same problem yours does. What marketing strategies are they using? What’s working? What doesn’t seem to be working? What information do they include on their website? What colors do they use? What images are they using? What’s the general feel of the branding? Your goal is to look for successful strategies you can learn from as well as ways to stand out.
3. Create Your Marketing Plan
Now it’s time to craft a marketing plan. Your marketing plan should start with your target users. Where do they spend time online? What types of messages do they best respond to? What formats do they prefer (video, audio, images, text)? What communication style do they like? If you haven’t already created marketing personas, go ahead and do so. These will help you think from the perspective of your users.
What strategies your marketing plan includes will depend on your budget. Research the costs of advertising on all the sites that your target users spend time on, including social media sites. Brainstorm creative ad ideas, including quizzes and contests. Start connecting with reporters, journalists, and bloggers who work for the media outlets your target users watch, listen to, and read. Reach out to influencers to gauge their interest. At this stage, try to come up with as many different tactics as you can, then evaluate them for effectiveness and affordability.
4. Build Your Pre-Launch Website and Your Marketing Website
Generate enthusiasm and build a list of potential users with a pre-launch website. This website should highlight your branding and share a clear, focused message of the problem your app solves and how it solves it. Prompt potential customers to submit their email addresses so you can notify them when the app launches. It’s smart to offer these folks a special incentive, like a free e-course, a checklist, or some other downloadable that provides more information on steps they can take in the meantime to alleviate the pain they’re experiencing.
You’ll also want a main marketing site that you can direct your URL to once your app has launched. This site should contain consistent messaging with what you used in your pre-launch site, but it will be a full site that contains more information about your company, the app, and how to get customer service.
Depending on the nature of your app, you may also want to publish a blog with expert tips, behind-the-scenes videos, or stories from user testing. A blog will also help you rank in the search engines for your target keywords.
5. Prepare Your Marketing Assets
Once your main marketing asset is built (your website), you’re ready to create all your other marketing assets.
Messaging — Craft taglines, slogans, and the key marketing messages that you’ll share in your campaigns. You want your messages to be consistent and recognizable, so crafting these now will simplify your marketing later on. It’s also a good idea to create the email sequence that you’ll send to the people who signed up for notifications on your pre-launch website.
Images — Gather the imagery you’ll be using in your campaigns. These may take the form of photos or graphics. You can purchase stock photography, or, better yet, hire a photographer to do a custom photoshoot for you.
Videos — Shoot and edit the videos you’ll be using in your campaigns. Video can get expensive very quickly, but today’s technology allows you to create professional-looking videos with minimal equipment.
Press Kit — If you want to appear in the media, you’ll need a press kit. A press kit contains all the information and images that reporters and journalists will need to do stories on your company and your app.
6. Create Feedback Channels
You need feedback from your users in order to improve your app. A feedback channel that’s easy for users to access will make it more likely that they’ll share this valuable information. Think through how you’ll gather feedback, and be sure to provide details on how to submit feedback on your website and app listing. You want users to submit feedback to you before they share bad reviews.
7. Prepare Your App Store Listing
Both Apple and Google offer checklist guides that cover everything you need to do before launching your app on their platforms and uploading it to their stores. Be sure to read through these checklists to make sure you have covered everything.
Your app listing has several jobs to do. It needs to communicate the value of the app and how users will benefit from it. It needs to entice users through screenshots that give them a clear idea of what to expect when using it. It also needs to be worded in a way that integrates target keywords so it appears in search results. Spend time crafting this listing so that you have the best chance of success.
With your pre-launch plan in place, you’re ready to introduce your new app into the world. Your journey won’t end here, as you put your marketing plan into action and implement user feedback for ongoing improvement. But you’ll be confident that you have a strong foundation in place.
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